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Cauliflower Wellington Recipe
Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients and the lengthy method (a lot of the prep-time for this recipe is just roasting the cauliflower); it’s a show-stopping vegetarian centrepiece that’s sure to temp meat-eaters, too! Serves 4-6.
For the mushroom filling;
40g dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Red Onion, trimmed, peeled and diced finely
3 cloves of Garlic, peeled
250g Mushrooms (Chestnut or Closed-Cup are ideal), wiped
3 sprigs fresh Rosemary, leaves only, chopped finely
4-5 sprigs fresh Thyme, leaves only
3 Bay Leaves
½ tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
Nutmeg, for grating
200g Cream Cheese
1 lemon, zest only (to avoid waste, you can squeeze the juice into an ice-cube tray and freeze for future use in drinks, dressings or desserts)
Sea Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper
Fill and boil your kettle, then put the dried porcini mushrooms into a basin and pour over just enough boiling water to cover them; leave them to steep for about 30 minutes, while you make a start on the cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5) and lightly oil a baking sheet. Take the outer leaves off the cauliflower and discard them, then trim the bottom of the stalk flat so that the cauliflower will sit upright when you place it on the baking sheet (be careful to keep it whole). Drizzle the oil over the cauliflower and sprinkle over a good pinch of sea salt and some black pepper, then rub it all well in. Put the cauliflower into the hot oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and just tender to the tip of a sharp knife, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.
While the cauliflower is cooking and cooling, put the fresh mushrooms into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (or chop by hand as finely as possible). Put the olive oil into a frying pan over a medium heat, and when hot, add the diced red onion. Lower the heat and cook the onion very gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to colour. Crush the garlic cloves into the pan and cook for a minute or so, then add the mushrooms to the pan and turn the heat back up to medium. Cook, stirring, for 10-15 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden in colour.
Next, lift the porcini mushrooms out of their soaking liquid (the liquid is worth saving, as it’s a great base for vegetarian gravy), then chop them finely – scissors are good for this - and add to the pan. Stir well, and keep cooking until the mixture is dry, with no liquid left in the pan. Chop the walnuts finely (or pulse in the food processor) and add them to the pan, together with the rosemary, thyme and bay leaves; mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the vinegar. Again, cook until all the liquid has evaporated, then take the pan off the heat and grate in the lemon zest and plenty of nutmeg. Wait until the pan has cooled completely, then beat in the cream cheese and season generously with salt and pepper.
To assemble the Wellington, lightly oil a clean baking sheet and put one of the puff pastry sheets on it. Place the cooled cauliflower in the middle of the pastry. Carefully spread the mushroom mixture all over the cauliflower (remove the bay leaves first), pressing it into the florets a little to keep it in place, but don’t put any on the pastry base. Beat the egg in a small bowl to make an egg wash, then brush a ring of egg wash on the pastry around the base of the cauliflower. Take the other sheet of pastry and place it on top of the cauliflower, carefully smoothing it down from the top without dislodging the mushroom mixture – try not to leave any air pockets or creases – until it meets the egg-washed bottom sheet, and press the two pieces of pastry together. Trim about 2cm around the base of the cauliflower, tucking the pastry under the cauliflower tightly. Now take the trimmed-away pastry and squash it together, then re-roll it to make another sheet of pastry about 3mm thick. With the tip of a sharp knife, make a series of regular 3cm slits in staggered rows on the new pastry sheet, keeping the rows about 1cm apart. Next, brush egg-wash over the smooth pastry covering the cauliflower, then take the pastry sheet with the 3cm slits and pull gently at either side – the slits should open to reveal a lattice pattern. Drape the latticed pastry sheet over the top of the pastry-covered cauliflower, pressing it down around the bottom of the cauliflower and using a fork to press down and seal the edges. Trim away any excess pastry and brush any remaining egg-wash over the lattice. Put in the oven at 180°C (Gas Mark 4) and cook for about 20 minutes, or until golden all over. To serve, place the Wellington on a serving dish, cut into slices and take to the table straight away with veggie gravy and your choice of vegetables to accompany.
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